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Fetal Heart Rate

the fetal heart rate

Fetal heartbeats represent the beginning of a new life according to many authors. Because of that, many of these authors also consider that abortion is murder as early as 5 weeks of pregnancy when the fetal heart starts beating. I will not discuss whether induced abortion is murder while the baby’s heart is beating or not. What is certainly true is that the sounds of the first baby’s heartbeats leave an amazing impression on the parents, regardless of their decision to give birth to the baby or to do an abortion. And, in addition to causing strong emotions in parents, fetal heartbeats are important for the doctor also. By estimating the number of baby’s heartbeats per minute, and according to numerous other parameters, the doctor monitors the development of the baby and pregnancy.

What is the normal heart rate of a baby during pregnancy?

At about the 5th week of pregnancy or the 3rd week of embryonic development, the heart of the baby begins to beat. It can already be measured with ultrasound. At this point, the normal fetal heart rate is approximately the same as the mother’s heart rate: 80 to 85 beats per minute (bpm). In the next 3 months, it will increase by three beats per minute per day.

The normal fetal heart rate is usually between 120 and 160 bpm during pregnancy, but in early pregnancy, it may be slower. In the table below, you can see fetal heart rate according to pregnancy weeks.

Pregnancy weeksThe fetal heart rate (bpm)
4-680-85
6100-130
7130-150
8150-170
9170-190
10170-190
11140-160
12-40140-160
The fetal heart rate according to weeks of pregnancy

Heart rate of fetus in the 1st trimester

In the 1st trimester, the fetal heart rate is variable and amounts to 75-160 beats per minute. That is because the autonomic nervous functioning, which is responsible for the normal functioning of the internal organs, is not yet normally established.

The heart rate of a baby during 2nd trimester of pregnancy

In the second trimester, the normal fetal heart rate becomes less variable and it is between 140-160 bpm. The autonomic nervous system maintains the heart rate and rhythm. Now, the heart rate doesn’t have such a diagnostic value at this time as at the beginning of the pregnancy. However, irregularities are possible at any time, so doctors should continue to pay attention to the fetal heart rate during each ultrasound.

Heart rate of a baby during 3rd trimester of pregnancy

The fetal heart rate in the 3rd trimester should be in the range of 140-160 bpm. This heart rate in the fetus is maintained until childbirth.

What causes changes in a baby’s heart rate during pregnancy?

The fetal heart rate is one of the most important indicators of fetal health and development. Unfortunately, the work of the small heart is often disturbed, which indicates a possible danger to the baby’s life.

The change in fetal heart rate can be affected by pregnancy stress, some chronic disease, and increased physical activity of the pregnant woman.

Increased physical activities of a pregnant woman often increase the baby’s heart rate. During the rest of the pregnant woman, the heart rate of her baby decreases and normalizes. Because of that doctors recommend that a pregnant mother come 20-30 minutes before the diagnostic procedure so that she can rest after the walk and calm down.

The fetal tachycardia or the fast heart rate of a fetus

The fast heart rate in the fetus often occurs during the baby’s active movements or the mother’s physical activity. However, it may also indicate intrauterine fetal hypoxia.

Intrauterine hypoxia of the baby can be a consequence of anemia in the pregnant mother. Therefore pregnant women should do blood tests regularly and, if it is necessary, start iron therapy. Of course, pregnant women should not take any therapy without consulting a doctor.

Fetal bradycardia or slower heart rate of a fetus

During pregnancy, the slow heart rate of baby can indicate the following problems:

  • placental insufficiency
  • following cordocentesis 
  • fetal cancer
  • vagal cardiovascular reflex:
    • fetal head compression
    • umbilical cord occlusion/compression
    • maternal exertion
    • hypoxia caused by myocardial depression
    • stimulation of the stretch receptors in the aortic arch and/or carotid sinus walls

Detecting heart rate of a baby during pregnancy

By ultrasound, doctors can detect the fetal heart rate already at 5-6 pregnancy weeks. Then it is not necessary to count the heart rate, because this information has no value at this early pregnancy stage. It becomes significant from 10 weeks to childbirth. However, a pregnant woman will be able to hear her baby’s heartbeat from about 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Other medical devices and instruments these doctors can use for monitoring fetal heart rate are Doppler fetal monitor, stethoscope, …

At the end

As you can see from the above, the heart of the baby in the womb is greatly influenced by the mother. So, if you are pregnant, enjoy pleasant walks, music that you love, healthy nutrition, etc. It is also very important to avoid stressful situations, and if you are already a parent, you can check if you are under stress. Also, sleep whenever you can, because when that little being starts to breathe outside from you, you will miss sleep very much, believe me.

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